Often we see Middle School as just a stop-gap between Elementary School and High School but it is a vital step to prepare our kids properly for High School so we can then properly prepare them for College or Career.

Middle School is the perfect time to teach independent learning, time management, stuff management, as well as start vision casting.  It is so important in these Middle School years that we spend time chatting with our kids about what they think they might be interested in. It is important that we tell them that God has great plans for their lives and we want to partner with God in that. Start talking about whether they see themselves going to college and if so, what colleges and for what.  Start asking them where they see themselves in 10 years. Allow them to dream and talk about their passions and desires, this is the time to talk to them about the fact that God has a purpose for their lives and it is our job to help prepare them for that.  Spend some time looking at careers and talk about schools that might help them follow their passions and God’s will. Let them know that it’s not time to make decisions, it is time to dream.  Want to be an Astronaut?  Okay, great, let’s see what that takes. If they don’t know, that’s okay too, but maybe there are a few things they are interested in and see if we can pursue them.  This is a great time to let your Middle Schooler know that you believe in them and that you are willing to help them put in the hard work that it takes to follow their dreams.

I recommend the book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell which talks about people who did extraordinary things, not because they were necessarily extraordinary, but they were willing to put in the work. He talks about the fact that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something and that’s the difference between many people who do extraordinary things – the time and hard work expended.  We need to be telling our kids this.  They are smart enough to do whatever they want, but are they willing to put the 10,000 hours of hard work in to follow their dreams? Have them read the book.  It is fascinating as it shows real examples of people who had the talent but not the perseverance and they failed and those who had just enough talent but serious determination and they achieved great things.

Caileigh often compares herself with others and generally puts herself in the negative. Last summer, I really started talking to her about the value of perseverance and hard work.  We talked about setting goals and then spending the time and hard work to meet those goals.  She set some big goals for herself and then put her head down and got to work.  I have never seen her so determined and hard working and she has met her goals and exceeded them.  It is so amazing to see and it has given her great confidence.  Not because I told her she could, but because she has worked hours and hours and is seeing the fruits of her labor pay off  and she feels good about her hard work so she works harder.  What a great life lesson this has been for my 14 year old girl. As a matter of fact, she set two goals for herself in some of her passion areas and despite the fact that she has been on Chemo level drugs for her Autoimmune disease, which make thinking hard, she has more than accomplished both.  Not by just sheer talent, but by a massive amount of hard work.  She works hard and long until she accomplishes those goals.  There have been times that she has sat in tears on my bed because things come easier to others, including her brothers, but she recognizes that she can accomplish what she wants to by will power and long hours.  She wanted to be a Rookie of the Year for Robotics, she set the goal in October and she, her brother and her best friend were awarded the Rising Star award in Robotics last Saturday. Much of the success for Collin was that he was encouraged, goaded, and pulled into the things that Caileigh was excited about.  Both Caileigh and Collin set a goal to be on a tournament team for Bible Bowl at the beginning of the year and they put in the work to make it happen.  We must stress to our kids that the difference between talent and success is hard work.

Our job as parents is to take some of of their dreams and aspirations and help our kids get started.  If they are interested in Engineering, get them books, sign them up for Lego League.  If they show interest in Knitting, get them some books, and some cheaper yarn and needles and set them free.  Are they interested in physics?  Get some books and then some science kits.  Start little, then if they start showing more interest, dig deeper.  Talk to people who specialize in that interest and find out how they got started.  Be interested and help them see the possibilities and keep telling them it’s possible with enough hard work.  If they decide it’s not for them, that’s okay, that’s why you start with little things.  If they talk about being an Astronaut, don’t start by sending them to Space Camp ( unless you are my husband, but he just needed an excuse to go himself) start by watching Earth to the Moon and playing Kerbal.  If they show interest, then help them by taking a step and getting them some books from the library and then watch to see if they want to take the next step.

Start looking at colleges that have what your kids are interested in and figuring out what requirements they need to get in. We started looking at Colleges with Connor at 12.  He wanted to go to MIT or Cambridge.  We started talking about what he would need to do to make that happen. Connor didn’t end up going to school at either of those places, but he did end up being a finalist for the Boettcher Scholarship, which is a very prestigious full ride scholarship in Colorado.  He didn’t win it but because he was finalist he was awarded enough scholarship to almost pay for his college tuition for all four years of school.  He also was accepted in the Engineering Honors program at CU which will allow him to be double honors at graduation which will help to get him into Grad school.  We started planning and setting these things up in Middle School.  Dream big and let them dream big at this stage. That will help to give some guidance to our kids and start showing them that we believe their goals and dreams are possible with a lot of hard work.

Next read a Passion led High School


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